The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

On the Marc

STORRS, CONN. – It takes a certain amount of courage to attend a sporting event as a fan of the road team.

But that’s exactly what 55 St. John’s students and supporters did last Friday when the men’s soccer team played Connecticut in Storrs.

Organized by the School Spirit Committee, 30 fans chartered a bus up to UConn and 25 more came up on their own to watch the Red Storm play the Huskies in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

What they were greeted with was less than a warm welcome – and that’s to be expected. Like a collegiate Yankees-Red Sox, the St. John’s-UConn rivalry is heated, bitter and intense. That goes for the players, coaches and especially the fans.

The atmosphere at Morrone Stadium in St. John’s 1-0 loss to Connecticut was all of those things.

But worse.

The conduct of the UConn fans was rather deplorable, to understate it.

It’s OK to taunt players on the field. That’s what fans do. Belson Stadium fans are as guilty as any of catcalling and screaming at an opposing team’s goalkeeper. However, the St. John’s fans who made the trek up to Storrs were treated like animals. They were yelled at by obviously drunken UConn fans. They were not protected at all by Morrone Stadium’s event staff. Worst of all, they were physically accosted and had things thrown at them by UConn supporters.

Disgusting.

“A couple of our students were, I wouldn’t say assaulted because it would be too drastic of a word,” said Christopher Coes, a St. John’s graduate student who made the trip. “But it would’ve reached that point if a lot of our students didn’t maintain control.”

Added John Kelly, co-chair of the School Spirit Committee: “[There were] a lot of drunk UConn fans. A lot more than there would be here.”

Now, I’m not going to sit here on my high horse and criticize fans for attending a game under the influence of alcohol – I’d be a hypocrite. Tailgating and the like are strong traditions among sports fans. There isn’t any problem with that until fans become belligerent and can no longer control themselves. Those are two extremely accurate descriptions of UConn fans last Friday.

When on-lookers get to that state, it is up to the event staff to restore order and not be afraid to eject people. Not only were they not doing their job, they were seen actually giving drunk fans high-fives and basically letting them get away with whatever they want.

“You couldn’t see one UConn event staffer in place, keeping the crowd from us,” Coes said. “This is a sporting event, but we’re in a vulnerable situation. You have people all in your face, screaming at you. But hey, you can scream at me, but give me my space.”

After seeing the actions of Connecticut fans last week, it makes one appreciate the behavior of the St. John’s student section at Belson – one that has gotten a bad rap in the past for being obscene.

As far as profanity goes, things said during St. John’s home games aren’t even in the same universe as the things coming out of Huskies fans’ mouths.

“In comparison, you could say that we’re more civilized,” Coes said. “Don’t get me wrong, we can be the most hardcore student group. However, there’s at least this level of respect. You would never find us heckling or really taunting at the level we saw.”

As one St. John’s fan was walking to buy hot chocolate, she was hit with a wool glove. The thought of drunk, neanderthal Connecticut fans lobbing things at people brings to mind a trip to the zoo, where it would be common to see a pack of orangutans chucking their own feces.

Maybe a bit of a stretch, but it actually gets worse.

After the game, as the St. John’s players was walking off, a group of UConn supporters, who appeared to be drunk, camped out at the opening of the field where they were to leave and enter the locker room. The fans heckled the players mercilessly and freshman midfielder Garry Lewis took umbrage, shoving one of the fans back. Event staff – maybe the first time they were astute all game – broke up what could have been a disastrous situation.

Getting on players during the game is part of sports. But to wait for them to leave the stadium and continue to be insufferable jerks? Get a life.

Your team won. Isn’t that what sports is about anyway?

Evidently not in this case.

What’s happening up in UConn is that soccer fans are using sporting events as an excuse to be drunk and abusive in public.

Save that for your tiny, rural watering holes – and you’ve got plenty of them in and around Storrs.

“Many times we’ve went all out on their players and stuff, because that’s fair game,” Coes said. “However, you never found us throwing things at them [or] pushing [their fans].”

Blatant disregard for others? Abominable, uncivilized behavior? Throwing things at bystanders? Sounds like evolution has passed Storrs by.

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